Claire of anggarrgoon has gotten a grant to work on Pama-Nyungan prehistory and historical reconstruction; progress reports will be posted on her new website Pama-Nyungan reconstruction (“Exploration of Australian Linguistic Prehistory”). From the abstract:
Australia’s linguistic prehistory is important for several reasons. It has been claimed that methods developed for Europe and the Americas do not work in Australia. If true, such a finding would be highly important, since these methods are based on properties of language change which until now have been assumed to be universal. However, preliminary work indicates that Australian languages show the same characteristics that we find elsewhere. Small speech community size, widespread multilingualism, and other factors have obscured relationships between these languages. These languages are an excellent laboratory for modeling what language change might have been like before the spread of agricultural communities. If we are ever going to be able to model accurately what prehistoric global language spread might have looked like, we need to understand how it operated in Australia.
Congratulations, and I look forward to the results!